Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why the AMA Wants to Muzzle Your Doctor

The May 7, 2010 Wall Street Journal carried a provocative OpEd by pediatric surgeon Dr. Hal Scherz entitled, "Why the AMA Wants to Muzzle Your Doctor".

Dr. Scherz, who is also president of the medical organization Docs4PatientCare opposed to ObamaCare, states the following about the AMA:
The AMA was not only a major supporter of ObamaCare but also an accomplice in its passage. Without the support of the AMA it is quite possible that the health-care reform initiative would have failed. So why the effort to silence other doctors? The AMA is not only worried about protecting this misguided legislation, it is worried about protecting itself.

...The irony is that in supporting ObamaCare and trying to silence doctors the AMA has forgotten its own mission statement and ethical code: "[T]o help doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues." It is always medically ethical to tell patients the truth, which is what doctors are now doing by educating them about ObamaCare.
Specificially, Schertz argues:
1) The AMA is attempting to inappropriately silence doctors speaking out to patients and the public against ObamaCare.

2) The AMA only represents 17% of physicians.

3) The AMA's political positions are not necessarily driven by any high-minded concern for patient welfare, but may be inappropriately influenced by a desire to retain special government-granted monopoly privileges over medical coding and billing standards, which can be quite lucrative for the organization.
(Read the full text of "Why the AMA Wants to Muzzle Your Doctor".)

Dr. Scherz raises many good questions. There may be some individual AMA members who are honestly mistaken in their support of ObamaCare, thinking it will benefit patients and doctors in the long run.

But many physicians I know are disgusted with the AMA's willingness to betray patients and doctors in exchange for questionable benefits, whether it be government-granted financial windfall (as Scherz argues) or the illusion of political clout from having "a seat at the table".

(Link via David Catron, who has his own good writeup on the Scherz piece.)